Uten Håp – Life Obliteration (2018) REVIEW

Solo or ‘bedroom’ black metal projects have always offered a mixed bag of quality due to the nature of creation without any mind (or want) for collaboration. So many artists strike out on their own due to frustration or timidity in terms of collaborative process with others and this is a difficult reality for the listener because a very small number of artists excel at self-editing. As impressive as prolific projects can be in terms of time investment and sheer volume of work put out, very little of it holds value for my taste without prime fidelity, high concept, or basic variation. Uten Håp is a prolific depressive black metal solo project based out of Madrid, Spain and Norway that pays no mind to my triad of requirements and plainly drones on in what feels like an hour long atmospheric black metal guitar screensaver for the depression addled mind.

In researching Uten Håp for review I eventually had to succumb to the necessity of listening to his ‘One Year of Grief’ (2018) compilation that collects four hour’s worth EP’s all twelve from 2017. The issue at hand wasn’t so much the time investment but rather that Danthor Wildcrow had essentially written two songs with very, very slight variations 41 times, across 12 demo quality recordings in one year. The first type starts with a piano arrangement that will bleeds slightly, or abruptly cuts off, into a series of 1-2 depressive black metal riffs before ending. The second, more common song type involves quiet and cursory programmed rock drum beats at mid-to-slow pace, heavily reverb soaked guitar work performing atmospheric guitar technique with minor variance within (or between) each song. Atop much of this comes heavily processed screaming set low in the mix that appears more as sound effects set at random intervals and moderate intensity across each song without any tact in placement for effect. It may appear that I’m describing -all- low budget black metal in this style but Uten Håp in particular sounds like an ‘industrial’ form of this music created by a random number generator.

So, is it good? Well, my own experiences with life make me a veritable oozing sponge for depressive music in all forms but at no point did the five hours of Uten Håp, nor additional hour with Wildcrow‘s more straightforward depressive black metal project Rive, connect with my heightened empathy or predisposition towards dysthmia. The low budget sound and limited musical vocabulary aren’t such an issue but my gut never felt anything genuine hit my headphones during that time. As oppressive, minimalist black metal art ‘Life Obliteration’ is interesting in it’s almost headstrong avoidance of variation. I can appreciate that this approach would/does intend to recreate the flattening mind, someone forever altered by persistent depression, but at no point is the melodrama pronounced enough to emote.

There are some basic issues here that come down to ‘quality of life’ for the listener that could be addressed with some small collaboration. Additional noise gating, or a proper mix, could ease up on the mind-raking interference that plagues the duration of ‘Life Obliteration’ at the very least. At high volume, and particularly with a good pair of headphones, this becomes incredibly difficult to overlook. I respect the limitations of time, money and the need for creative control but I always feel obligated to suggest increasing collaboration to improve the intended art. The composition or performance needn’t change necessarily, the wall of sound and meandering structures could be seen as post-something, but Uten Håp‘s music suffers more convincingly from it’s methodology than the depressive suicidal themes of the music.

Though I may appear down on the project as a whole, I see ‘Life Obliteration’ as encouraging overall. I remember when Harikiri For The Sky began making some of the same erroneous logistical choices as a bedroom project and their ideas eventually translated as world class once they were able to forge relationships and collaboration over time. Slow, eeking progress seeps in beyond the conceptualization of 2017 and while I don’t think ‘Life Obliteration’ is a breakthrough more than it is further repetition, most every aspect sees some small improvement, particularly the placement of vocals/screams. I’m left wondering why the ideas from his other project Rive don’t just bleed entirely into this project as the two ethos would alternate well enough and offer largely the same sound.

I would only recommend this to very dedicated depressive black metal listeners and primarily to promote Wildcrow as an independent artist. I found I could not break myself into the album after the sixth full listen due to a sensitivity to the noisome interference in the mix. That doesn’t mean I didn’t find any value here, though, and I would recommend “Path of Sorrow” as it features a mournful variation that stands out above the rest of the otherwise samey experience. If you are interested in extreme and unflinching atmospheric/depressive black metal mutations and less concerned with melody, riffs, or variation I am certain you’ll have an easier time connecting with Uten Håp than I.

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Artist Uten Håp
Type Album
Released August 13, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Cult of Osiris’ Bandcamp! Follow Uten Håp on Facebook
Genre Depressive Black Metal

Blinded by despair. 2.5/5.0

lol
Danthor Wildcrow’s thoughts on Grizzly Butts!

 

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